Join Jays From the Couch as we review the highlights and lowlights of Toronto Blue Jays top prospect Justin Maese’s 2017 season
Justin Maese entered the year as the Blue Jays 10th ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was expected to anchor the A-Ball Lansing Lugnuts starting rotation; unfortunately, the 21-yr-old ran into some injury problems which derailed his season.
The talented right-hander landed on the disabled (shoulder) after allowing 3 runs on 7 hits over 6 innings in a no-decision on May 29th. The injury was described as a minor injury and Maese wasn’t expected to miss much time.
This, of course, didn’t happen.
Justin Maese made his first rehab start with the Gulf Coast Blue Jays on July 19th, making three starts in total. He returned to the Lugnuts on August 3rd, allowing 8 runs over 3 innings. He made just one more start on August 8th, before being shut down for the season.
Despite the injury-riddled season, MLB Pipeline ranked Justin Maese as Toronto’s 14th best prospect. Not bad for a guy that made just 12 starts in 2017.
Justin Mease Career Stats
Despite all the doom and gloom which I outlined above, Justin Maese still managed to show his talent and development in 2017. He was even named to the Midwest Mid-Season All-Star team.
When healthy, Maese continued to show off a very repeatable delivery and athleticism. His fastball continues to show excellent downward action and touched the high 90’s with some regularity. He continues to show improvement on spinning an average change and slider.
The downward action of his fastball has helped Mease become one of the system’s best worm-killers. He finished with a 53.9 GB% and just 5.2 HR/FB, allowing 3 home runs over 70.2 IP.
Justin’s top 3 at-bat outcomes were impressive with 76 groundouts, 69 strikeouts, and 66 singles. While his top batted ball breakdown produced a huge divide between 1st (ground ball 134) and 2nd (line drive 50).
Not expected to be a pitcher with high strikeout numbers, the former 3rd rounder produced 7.64 strikeouts per 9 innings with the Lugnuts.
The native of El Paso, Texas, had his best month in May, prior to landing on the DL. He won 3-of-5 starts, tossing 2 complete games, with a 3-0 record and 3.03 ERA in 35.2 innings. Justin racked up 34 strikeouts and just 10 walks while producing 42 groundball outs and 19 flyball outs, good for a 1.56 GO/AO.
According to Baseball Reference, Maese’s best game was a 4-1 Lugnuts win over Kane County on May 11th. He pitched a complete game, striking out 7 and walking 1 over 9 innings. This improved his record to 4-2 with a 4.09 ERA.
Firstly, maybe a by-product of some bad starts and maybe a by-product of learning a new level but Justin Maese but saw his BB/9 increase from 2.24 in 2016 up to 3.31 in 2017. This resulted in a decreased 2.31 K/BB with the Lugnuts.
Secondly, time on the disabled list. Really that is it for lowlights. I am sure that Maese would’ve produced more month similar to the one he had in May (see above) than the one he had in April. A slow start produced a record of 2-2 with a 5.79 ERA. He still managed to produce a complete game, strike out 20 and walk 10 in 28.0 IP while allowing opponents to bat .319.
Maese has all the makings of a middle of the rotation starter. Despite making just 12 starts in 2017, he should join the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2018. This will allow him to start the year in a warmer climate, plus it allows the training staff to keep a close eye on that shoulder.
MLB Pipeline has Justin Maese reaching the Majors in 2019. His timeline will depend on his ability to leave injury-riddled 2017 in the past.
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